Manntra in Cologne: the Croatian band delivers a perfectly entertaining show

Author Askar Ibragimov - 21.5.2024

It is summer 2023. I am talking to Marko Sekul on the backstage of the M’Era Luna festival. He confesses: in the past, he felt constrained with the “seated” tour where the band had to warm up for a larger goth rock name. “We are a rock’n’roll band” he concludes.

This spring I was able to visit the Manntra show in Cologne, in HELIOS37, an end of their “War of the Heatens” tour. The evening left me even more wondering, how on Earth happened that the previous seated tour was ever a possibility. Because Manntra does deliver. Even having a “Deutsche Bahn moment” by being stuck in Cologne for a delayed train did not ruin the experience.

The first band of the evening, Florian Grey, I sadly missed because they simply started ahead of schedule. The ‘alternative Dark Rock’ band has been compared to HIM and sounds “more positive than other dark rock”, according to a review.

When Soulbound came on stage, it became very clear, that this gig would not be the case when only the headliner was actually worth attending. I do not speak German, but they said something about missing a guitarist — and started to drag fans onstage, one at a time, and giving them an inflatable guitar. Some fans really were picking up the deal and behaving onstage fiercely. The band was a pure joy to listen, it was another time when I was simply impressed by how many quality bands Germany has. At some point, Manntra people come onstage and for the lack of extra inflatable instruments simulate playing music on the locally sourced mops.

A very energetic Soulbound set already warmed up the crowd, but Manntra managed to push the level of excitement another degree up. Their music is a surefire mix of historical/fantasy lyrics and heavy metal with mixed-in Balkan melodies. They like to incorporate anything in the musical business that looks appropriate for their shows. One of their band members is fully incognito, goes by name Barren King and sports a skull mask. According to him, he comes from Hell every morning to collect souls on the concerts.

Been to several large concerts just this month, held in sold-out, large venues, with thousands in attendance, I can say that by energy this medium-sized gig blew all of them out of the water. Mannra hits hard, with their long, twenty-something song setlist, and it is never a dull moment. Barren King starts waving a huge flag, while the band plays just with the light of lighters and phone torches; at another moment, the same Kind goes crowd surfing on a SUP board, much like Rammstein does; these party tricks, performed in a narrow space of a club, bring the impression from the gig to the highest degree. Confetti popped at the end. All band members are extremely fun to watch, it’s not a show when a frontman has to deal with the whole presentation.

This was easily one of the most perfect metal gigs I have ever seen. Do not miss Manntra, especially in a club setting.